My tips on how to stay Thin during summer vacation.

Hi friends!

I’ve been in a whirlwind lately; new house, new job, crazy schedules, turning 30 years old, celebrating 10 years of marriage and then of course always trying to fit in a vacation in here and there. So, I cannot complain! Although it’s been crazy; life is good!

With this being said, I haven’t really been cooking a lot of new recipes lately, we mainly stick to cooking on the grill and then of course going out to eat in all the local summer bars & restaurants, as you know Italy is famous for all their little outdoor places to eat and/or drink that open up just for the summer (as we live in a beach town) so we are taking advantage of that. And then we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in Mykonos, Greece. It was amazing.

The reason I wanted to write a post about how to stay thin during summer vacation is simply because I know that the summer is awesome, but also a time were you tend to gain weight. I know they say that you gain weight during the winter, but I really think that it varies, because during the summer you enjoy a few more cocktails, you eat later, you stay out later and you just try to have a little more fun while enjoying the beautiful weather.

10 years of marital blissLike I mentioned earlier, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary recently (actually July 12th, so just a few days ago). And, just got back from Mykonos where I think is the first time I lost weight during a vacation. No, I don’t know how much as I didn’t weigh myself, but my clothes fit looser and I feel great. I didn’t at all change what I ate and just stuck to what I generally do at home, I might of had wine every night but that’s all I changed I promise. It got me thinking that if you stick to what you do everyday and don’t act like you were starving this whole time and use your vacation as your time to overeat, you might just be in for a pleasant surprise.
So here are a few tips for how you can try to stay yourself without sacrificing on anything all the while still enjoying your summer.

  1. Stay Hydrated. Drink water!! During the summer your body tends to bloat because you retain fluids due to the heat. If you stay hydrated your body will automatically de-bloat and you’ll feel a whole lot lighter. And your skin will glow too! Besides water helps your body naturally detox, so do it!
  2. Eat your greens and your proteins. Make or Order a nice salad and add chicken, or shrimp. This will help your body detox and keep your digestion on track so that you don’t get bloated. It also makes you full faster, making you eat less. Causing you to not have to not eat crap!
  3. Have yourself a snack made of pure watermelon. Yes, believe me watermelon is ridiculously hydrating and super filling.  It goes through your system so fast and you’ll feel so light. Same goes for Pineapple! Eat this if you crave anything sweet and do yourself a wonderful favor.
  4. Workout! I worked out 5 days out of the 7 days during the vacation and I felt awesome. I mean I am on vacation to feel good not to feel bad. So, if I feel good while I workout then why give it up on vacation? To me working out is not a chore it’s a pleasure and I feel great after I complete it. So, workout!
  5. Soak for 20-30 minutes in an Epsom Salt bath! This should be at the top of the list. You wanna know one of the secrets of thin people? This is it! You soak in Epsom Salt and you will feel energized, relaxed, tight & fabulous. Try it and then tell me what you think.
  6. Yes… you can drink. Opt for white wine. Try to stay away from all those sugary drinks and if you still want them, then please make sure to drink 2 glasses of water after each of them, thus trying to flush out the sugar and helping your whole system stay on track.
  7. Don’t eat just cause it’s free or included. I see people shoving food down their throats simply because it’s free or included and I think that you are better than a free binge that will cause you to feel horrible the next day. If you are hungry then eat; but stop overeating just because it’s there. You’re without a doubt going to feel horrible the next day, or even later. I ate only what I really wanted when I wanted (isn’t that what vacation is all about?! Only that! and I was really impressed to notice that I actually loved this vacation because I didn’t go on a vacation to come back and have to go on a diet. I went on a vacation to come back feeling relaxed and glowing. So be mindful of what you eat.

These are a few of my tips. They are nothing crazy, they are not hard but they truly are so simple and so easy to follow that you will wonder why you haven’t done them all this time. Remember a vacation is something you wait for all year to feel good. Not something you wait for all year to feel horrible. Stay connected to your body and mind and you’ll truly have an amazing summer! We are beautiful creatures and we deserve to always: no matter what the circumstance, to feel that way. Have a wonderful Summer!

Beach Photo

 

Pomodori Ripieni (Stuffed Tomatoes)

This is a traditional roman dish that is vegan, vegetarian and oh so delicious!

It’s a simple, quick summer dish to make and it even tastes better the next day. I know it might sound crazy that this would be a summer dish but it really just is.
So, if you find yourself with little time or rushing around with not enough time to dedicate to the kitchen I would say that this dish was designed specifically for you.
I wanted to share this recipe because even if it’s not something that I invented or something so known, it’s actually a very healthy and fast meal for either lunch or dinner. The original recipe calls for wedged potatoes to be baked along with the tomatoes but I left the potatoes out and made myself a side salad and or veggie dish. I really hope that you like as much as we did.

Here goes. Enjoy!

Pomodori Ripieni 3

Ingredients:
Serves 9

  • 9 Large Tomatoes
  • 9 Tbsp. Rice
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Few leaves of Basil &/or Parsley
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse the tomatoes and slice the top off and set them aside to then use later to cover the tomatoes with.

Grab a medium sized bowl and with a spoon carefully scoop out pulp of tomato into it. Place tomato face side down and continue process until all tomatoes are done.
Now blend or chop up the pulp of the tomato and return to bowl. Add the garlic chopped finely to the bowl along with the evoo, basil, salt and pepper.
Now add the rice and mix all ingredients well, allow to sit for atleast 1 hour and 1/2.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (380° F).

Grab a baking dish drizzle some evoo and then place the tomatoes inside face up. Scoop rice inside each tomato and once completed top the tomato with the tomato tops you set aside.

Bake for an hour. And then you can either leave them to cool for the rest of the day or you can eat them right away. Either way I think they are delicious.

 

Homemade Gluten-free Gourmet Crackers

I am a cracker fanatic. Anything that is a crispy, crunchy and made with flour or should be made with flour is my friend.

Over the years I have stopped buying these delicious crackers if they are made with white flour, yeast and any ingredients that I can’t pronounce and I love eating the crackers that are made with spelt, or kamut flour with maybe some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and maybe some rosemary, flax, or other similar ingredients. Trust me they taste a million times better than regular old crackers that have all this processed crap in them.

I shy away from gluten free because generally the replacement ingredients for the flour and binders are just more crap and sometimes high in sugar. This of course isn’t all of them you can find some really great Gluten free products but you do have to read the labels on gluten-free products because just cause they are gluten-free does not mean that they are healthy.
I like Elana’s Pantry and her recipes for all things gluten-free are pretty great. I came across this recipe that I thought looked interesting and I really had an itch to try it because it seemed so simple and I love almonds so why not. I am curious and always up for a good ol’ recipe that stimulates my taste buds. Well the outcome was great.  But I have to admit that I did non like the taste the egg left, the almond flour tends to absorb the taste of anything you cook it with….it tasted a bit eggy to me so I decided to make a few changes and I must say they are delicious. You should try them too!

I think these would be great served with a cheese board or even with some charcuterie or served with some preserves or even peanut butter and honey…you choose either or, but this Monday is Memorial Day and I’m sure as hell eating these. ‘Nuff said. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
Makes about 20-24

  • 1 1/3 cup Almond Four
  • 1tbsp. ground Flax/Chia seeds
  • 3tbsp. Water
  • 1tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1tbsp. Rosemary, freshly chopped
  • Sprinkle of Sea Salt

In a small bowl combine the ground flax/chia with the water. Let sit for 3 minutes.

In a large bowl combine almond flour, rosemary and sea salt and mix ingredients.

Add Olive oil to the flax & chia, mix and stir into the Almond flour mixture.

Roll the dough in between to pieces of parchment paper until about cracker thickness (so thin)

Remove the top piece of parchment paper and cut into 2 inch squares.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Until lightly golden.
Allow to cool completely.
Variations:
  • Use and egg instead of the flax and water
  • You can incorporate 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
  • Replace rosemary with turmeric, cayenne, and any other spice you would like.
  • Hey go ahead and add something that you might like, shaved parmigiano  or black pepper. Try anything!

 

Healthy Guacamole for 5 de Mayo

Avocado is something that I grew up eating simply because my Mom loves it so she used to try and incorporate it in many of our meals and since a very young age I’ve just enjoyed eating it.

When I moved out at 17 I got away from it for a while because here in Italy it wasn’t so easy to find up until recently, (where pretty much every grocery store will have it), but also because it’s a little pricey and at that age I wasn’t going to spend a €1.50 on one.
I then moved to the States (as you all know) and while there I rediscovered it by going out to eat at Mexican restaurants and shopping at the grocery stores where I found it everywhere and for great prices.
Being an Italian with a vast and inquisitive palate when I lived in the United States I would only really enjoy eating out if it was Sushi, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Peruvian, Spanish, Organic and/or Vegan. I didn’t find any authentic Italian restaurants and while I’m sure there are some that are legit they will never compare to eating here in Italy, so why bother. I explore the world because I like the to get to know it and not to find Italy in it. I love all cultures and I like to enjoy their food as well.

I’ve been lucky my husband and I found some amazing Mexican restaurants and one of the things I enjoyed most was the chips and salsa and/or guacamole. I love guacamole. The only thing I find is that sometimes it has too much onion, or other ingredients and what I most like about guacamole is the avocado mashed with cilantro and lime with just a hint of salt and lots of cayenne.
So, I’ve decide to make it at home and while now we live in Italy and 5 de Mayo is no more, we still make a Mexican dinner on that night just so we too can celebrate and enjoy this cuisine that really does not exist in Italy at all.
Here is my take in a very simple dish that can really make your day!

Ingredients:
Serves 3-4

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 tbsp. of Cilantro, fresh
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt to taste

Halve the avocado, remove pit and place pulp in a medium bowl. Lightly mash with a fork until consistency is chunky but smooth.
Squeeze the lime and add juice, slat and cayenne pepper to the avocado and mix.
Chop the cilantro and add to avocado mix thoroughly and serve.

My Tiramisu Gelato (ice-cream) Cake

Sorry for my absence I haven’t had the time to really do anything lately that has to do with my regular routine. I started a new job and moved into a new house; all things that I am extremely excited about but that have taken up huge amounts of my time and energy.
Our days have been filled with trying to do everything while still trying to work a 40-hour week, so yes; my pots and pans are still in boxes and hopefully this weekend we’ll get all the furniture needed and finally settle in.

Our meals have consisted of raw vegetables, salads with or without tuna or mozzarella and of course on some occasions are all time favorite cereal night were you put all sorts of berries in a bowl and/or other fruit, nuts and/or seeds, chia seeds and then my husband has his favorite oats and I have mine all topped off with either milk or greek yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon and if I use the yogurt then also honey.
All this to say that I have not had time to cook up any new recipes, but all the while we still make healthy choices each day. I don’t like the fact that even if you don’t have a full on kitchen set up or eat out you can’t make or eat healthy foods. So, I actually always strive to be on point because if you’re stressed and then top that off with unhealthy food you just feel worse.
It’s a lifestyle that you acquire but so beneficial and essential to feeling strong, healthy and energized.

Anyways, if you are anything like me you are already thinking of what you could potentially serve on Easter. I always try to opt for a dessert I can make before hand and then on the day of just focus on the main meal.

This is a simple and really delicious dessert that is refreshing especially after a big meal. It’s one of my favorite desserts with that extra something to it. It’s hassle free and fun to make. It’ll save you so much time but it will also make your guests think that you spent so much time on it and they’ll love every bite they take.

You’ll love this indulgent take on the classic Tiramisu dessert for Easter or also for any day. I made mine a little smaller for my Husband and I but the recipe posted is for a regular sized cake.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Serves 12

2 pints of Coffee Gelato

2 Pints of Vanilla Bean Gelato

A small Vanilla Sponge Cake

2 cups Espresso, freshly brewed

1/3 cup Coffee Liquor, (Baileys, Kahlua, Or Illy Liquor)

2 tbsp. Dark Cocoa powder, unsweetened

Chocolate shavings

 

In a small bowl stir together the Espresso and Coffee liquor.

Cut the cake in half horizontally.
In a 9×9 inch baking pan place a layer of the cake on the bottom. With a pastry brush, brush ½ the Espresso and liquor liquid.

Put the Vanilla Bean gelato in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour over the cake in the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle evenly 1 tbsp. of the Cocoa powder. Top with the second layer of cake. Brush with remaining Espresso and liquor.

Put the Espresso gelato in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
Pour over the cake and smooth over evenly. Freeze until completely hardened.

Take out of freezer and place in fridge about 30 minutes before serving and sprinkle the remaining tbsp. of cocoa powder and garnish with chocolate shavings.

1st Cooking Vlog

I’ve wanted for sometime now to post a video on cooking and health tips but also on how to make some of my favorite recipes.

I’ve taken so long because I don’t know too much about this whole thing and also I don’t want to put up something stupid but I do know that once I start posting videos it’s going to need some upkeep; perhaps not every week, but definitely once or twice a month to start out.

I’m sure there will be room for improvement but I hope that you enjoy the videos and find them helpful yet fun and easy to follow.

Alright, so let’s get to what I decided to post as my first video and why?

I chose Octopus because it’s one of the most popular things to eat in Italy. It’s always served simple yet it’s one of those things that you want to see how it’s cooked before you attempt to do it yourself. It’s not hard but reading how to cook it vs. visualizing it is so different. It simplifies any questions one might have.

I love Octopus. I know what you are thinking and you are right. Had I not grown up in Italy and tasted this and how delicious it is you probably couldn’t get me to try it out now. But, then again my Husband didn’t grow up eating it and he loves it so who knows.

It’s almost the same texture as lobster or shrimp and pretty much similar in taste.

Make sure that your Octopus is cleaned already. Here in Italy that’s the way they are sold most of the time. However, the cleaning is easy you need to cut off the eyes, teeth and remove the ink sack, then rinse really well under the water to remove any sand.

The general rule of thumb in cooking it is approx. 20 minutes per 500gr. (I got 1 kilo so 40 minutes) you want to make sure that the water is boiling before you put your Octopus in and then put on the lid and lower flame to a minimum for the full cooking time.

Some say to salt the water others believe that you shouldn’t and because there are so many mixed feelings I’ve decided that I don’t add salt to mine and only in the end when I’m dressing it. Works out perfectly.

Follow the steps in the video for cooking the Octopus. I’ll list here what you’ll need.

  • Octopus
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Some Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Add so boiled Potatoes to complete the dish (optional)

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies (Vegan)

I love love love love peanut butter. So, these were just perfect.

With this weather I’ve been craving some sweet stuff, but as you all know I’m not a sweet tooth so I needed something that was not a traditionally sugary dessert. And I love nuts so this was right up alley.

I made these Vegan because I am really trying to get into the chia seeds that are just a mega Super food and it makes my guilty foods a little less guilty with some healthy benefits. And they really are awesome to use as an egg re-placer. I haven’t noticed that they take any flavor away and actually really taste delicious. It keeps my desserts very moist and hey they really hit the spot. So, far the chia seed experimentation is really working out!

I also used the crunchy peanut butter because I love all things crunchy, all things seriously! I like the feeling of something crunchy in my mouth it makes eating a pleasure. But you use whatever you like, if you want smooth; use that.

Store in the fridge in a tight container. They also taste great cold.
I hope that you enjoy these as much as we did!

Vegan BrowniesIngredients:

2 cups Peanut Butter (crunchy or smooth)

3/4 cup Honey

2 tbsp. ground Chia or Flax + 6 tbsp. Water (make 10min ahead)*

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

2 tbsp. Cocoa Powder (organic, unsweetened)**

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped***

Preheat oven @ 325.
Prepare a 9×13 pan (I use parchment paper, or you can butter & flour)

In a mixing bowl add the peanut butter, honey mix well. Then add the chia/flax mix, and then incorporate baking soda, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix all ingredients well.
Pour in pan and sprinkle chopped chocolate on top or mix it in the batter. You see!

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are browned.
Cool completely and try not to eat all of them in one sitting.

* you can use 2 eggs if you don’t find ground chia or flax seeds
**you can leave out the choco powder and make blondies
*** you can add the choco chips or not I made both versions

Valentine’s Day Recipe: Gluten-Free Coconut Pancakes

Today I wanted to write about the lovely Valentines Day coming up and give you a healthy recipe that you could make for breakfast.

I think most of us don’t really celebrate Valentines Day anymore or somewhat think that it’s overrated?! I know if you’re single you probably hate this day because you feel like you have no one to celebrate it with.

If you are in a new relationship you are probably stressing or really planning this day out, from what present to give (if any)? where to go? what to write on the card? what chocolate to buy? or no chocolate? what to wear? lingerie? dress? how to make it romantic? etc…

If you are in a long relationship or married for 5 years or more you probably haven’t given this day much thought or maybe just planned to drink a glass of wine and have a nice dinner?!

I agree with a lot of you. I don’t think that you need to wait for this day to show love to someone and I also don’t think that just because it’s Valentines Day you have to go through all this. But I do think that it is a nice excuse to just stop and take time out of your day to really show your partner that you love them!

I know that love in a relationship is a given; but sometimes it’s nice to do a nice gesture of love than to just say “I love you bye, see you tonight after work and oh you decide what you wanna do I’m up for anything.” I look at it as a day that I have to put my Husband above all else. Not that I don’t already everyday, and not like he asks me, but if I can’t try to go out of my way once a year to sit and have a no rush catch-up conversation, coffee on the phone checking FB or Tweeter, see you tonight with our fave show; then I am really missing out on giving love on the day to show Love!

I’m not saying any of the above things aren’t nice, trust me I enjoy doing each and everyone of them and do do them. But sometimes we need to keep love alive. Do one thing different.

  • If you never eat out on Friday night and generally do Saturday’s switch it up and go out Friday night (seeing that that’s Valentines Day).
  • If you don’t have lunch together and usually stay in the office go out with him for lunch that day. Or meet up at a bakery and share a dessert or a coffee.
  • If you don’t have breakfast together because one of you leaves earlier than the other, either wake up earlier and have breakfast with each other or better yet leave him or her a card or note by the coffee machine.
  • Have a card sent to his or her office a couple of days before so that it gets there for Valentines Day.

Do something that is different and sweet and shows that you are not forgetting them and that no matter what life has going on you are always thinking of them. It’s fun, thoughtful and years down the line you’ll be happy you never stopped showing your love.

The reason I am posting this recipe is because it’s a romantic gesture to cook breakfast! Most times you cook breakfast the night before, or just grab something to eat on the way to work or at work. Valentines is all day so why not start it out at breakfast and get your mood on for the rest of the day. This way if he has dinner planned you have breakfast planned. We’ve all done the ‘I’ll cook dinner tonight’ or at least have planned the end of the day. So do something different. It’s not anything fancy but it’s the thought that counts.

And the best part is that these are healthy and light; so don’t worry about the fact that you are going to eat out or have a more indulgent dinner because these are just perfect to keep you full all-day long and to keep you looking sexy in that outfit you have planned.

Happy Valentines Day Mythineaters!!

Ingredients:
Makes about 6 small Pancakes

2 Eggs, whole

2 Egg whites

3 tbsp. Coconut oil

1 1/2 tbsp. Honey

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Vanilla

3 tbsp. Coconut, Shredded unsweetened

1/2 cup Chia and/or Flax seeds, ground

1/2 tsp. Baking powder

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, coconut oil, honey. Add salt, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut and chia/flax mix well and then fold in baking powder.

Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Heat some coconut oil in a griddle over medium heat. Spoon batter onto griddle and allow to cook until top of pancake starts to get holes and then flip. and cook for another minute.

Serve with whatever topping you like.

P.s. the batter will be a bit more liquid the regular pancake mix. Don’t add anything else even if you are tempted too. They’ll be perfect when they cook.

Variations all tried and tested:

  • Substitute almond flour for the coconut.
  • Replace 2 eggs with a banana
  • Add berries or choco chips to the batter if you want.

 

 

Super Simple Meatless Monday Recipe: Beets & Goat Cheese

Today we are talking Beets. I know that they don’t look enticing or they might not be fun to cook with or even that great tasting for most people. But let me tell you that this is a fabulous super food and you should try to incorporate it into your diet.

Here is why it’s healthy:
Beets belong to the same family as spinach and chard. It’s a rich purple color, but can also be white or golden. Think of beets as red spinach.

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value mainly Vitamin C, Folate & Betaine. All of which are exceptional for the human body. From lowering blood levels & helping with cardiovascuar health, to immune boosting & liver detoxification, as well as cancer fighting benefits and of course high in antioxidants.

You should really try them. You can eat them raw, pickled but mainly they are eaten steamed.

Here is a quick recipe that packs a bunch of flavor and will keep you coming back for more of this little overlooked vegetable.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 Beets, cooked

2 Caprino (goat) soft cheese sticks*

4 Bibb Lettuce leaves

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Cayenne (optional)

Tumeric (optional)

S&P to taste

Wash your lettuce and place 2 on each plate. Slice your beets and lay them on top of the lettuce.

Slice your cheese and place on top of the beets.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive oil, sprinkle remaining ingredients and enjoy!

*check how they sell the soft goat cheese in your country here in Italy I find them like this at the grocery store

Beets and goat cheese

 

 

Meatless Monday Radicchio Risotto

The wonderful Holidays are behind us and we are off to a wonderful 2014.

I don’t know why but I feel like this year is going to be fantastic, it’s an even number and I love the way it’s starting out. I feel positive and happy!

Tomorrow is my Monday because here in Italy it was Epiphany today, “which pretty much means a ton of candy, chocolate and of course another big family meal.”
With that being said I will be doing my Meatless Monday tomorrow and I thought that this Italian recipe was perfect. I love rice and I love veggies so this Risotto is a must in my book!

Let me know what you think and how you like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 small head of Radicchio

200 gr. Rice

1 Shallot

3-4 cups Vegetable Broth

1 tbsp. EVOO

Splash white wine

Salt

Parmiggino Reggiano, grated

Wash the radicchio and slice thinly. Get your shallot and slice finely; place in a sauce pan with the EVOO allow to get golden and then add the radicchio and cook until it wilts.

Add your rice and incorporate with all the ingredients, add your splash of white wine mix and allow it to evaporate.
Add your hot vegetable broth to the pan mix and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or desired doness.
Once it’s ready sprinkle some parmiggiano mix well and serve.